• Tom Lau

Visiting Jim Gremel in the middle of nowhere!

If you been following this blog you have noticed that we go almost about anywhere to visit and look at bonsai material and masters. This time our adventure leads up north of San Francisco. I've really never been north of San Francisco around the coastline in all my life so this excursion was a treat for me.

I had a long conversation with Jim Gremel at the Shohin Seminar in Santa Nella. I told him that I would love to visit him if I'm anywhere near San Francisco and he responded with, "Just email or call me and if I'm home you are always welcomed to drop by." Well that day came in late July and we drove to the middle of nowhere. I really mean the middle of nowhere. If you have Facebook here is a link to a video of the drive in: Click Here.

Maybe that is part of the adventure of the unknown. But once you arrive at his house it really becomes a bonsai haven. Tucked away in the coastal redwoods with a hint of an ocean breeze with little to no neighbors but the deers that roam wild. Then in all that you find Jim Gremel and his trees.

Then of course you get greeted by Jim. Trees of all types everywhere like an explosion of foliage and for the feast for the eyes to take in. Jim is known for his Blue Atlas Cedar and there were several greeting you as you enter the bonsai court.

Jim has an apprentice that does most of the heavy grunt work but was absent the day we visited. From what I have seen Bally has a really deep skill set the art of bonsai from the work I seen at Gremel's.

Trees are everywhere and every single square inch is used up. Some benches need major upkeep while other are just dead on beautiful. Like all bonsai garden the work is never finished. Unless the trees are dead and of course Jim has some of those too!

Did I mention Jim is known for Blue Atlas Cedars? Here is one beautifully field grown tree that Jim and Bally had a chance to put the initial wiring after being dug out from the field. If you noticed the movement in the trunk? All that hard work done in the field plays dividends when you get the tree out of the grow. This trunk line is just gorgeous!

Jim gives me a tour of the backyard or the growing field for the about an hour. These field is larger and denser that you will expect. Be prepared to trek through some rough foliage. The field is filled with Blue Atlas Cedars, Japanese Black Pines, and some 30 year old apple trees.

Even Japanese Black Pines have some nice movement to them. It just a testament how much time Jim has put into all his trees.

Here is a wide shot of some of his pines in the ground.

Our tour ended where we started with the bonsai court trees. This is a collected California Juniper which had its foliage grafted with shimpaku. But our tour did not really end here. Jim is also an accomplished potter and copper wire maker.

I was lucky to visit while he had some pots already made and ready for sale. This furnace is human size you can really stack this up with pots and still have room left over. This is Jim larger kiln he also has a smaller one on the side. Nanban style or freeform round style is what Jim totally enjoys to make.

I'll leave this post with several trees that need introduction as the work speaks for itself. If you are traveling to San Francisco or near you might make some time to visit Jim Gremel as you will be pleasantly surprised. Until the next post!